Treyvion Gray, 18, isn’t allowed to participate in his high school graduation ceremony because his dread locs are too long, reported Forth Worth Star-Telegram. Gray is suing Texas’ Needville Independent School District as well a number of school faculty and staff for racial discrimination.
The district dress code prohibits boys from growing their hair past their ears and eyebrows. Gray said the code is racially and sexually discriminating because his locs are an expression of his Blackness. The suit claims he had been disproportionately targeted and penalized by the dress code which not only affects him but also other Black students who wear their natural hair.
More on the suit from Star-Telegram:
“The length of locs have no bearing on NISD Black students’ capacity to learn, yet the wholly arbitrary Dress and Hair Policy restricts the mobility of Black students in public and private spaces, deny them equal educational opportunities, and strike at the freedom and dignity of the NISD Black student population,” the lawsuit says.
In a video interview with KPRC, Gray is seen with locs that have grown past his ears, eyebrows and shirt collar. The district dress policy, which “is established to teach hygiene, instill discipline, prevent disruption, avoid safety hazards, and assert authority,” says boys cannot have hair that long.
Locs? A safety hazard?!
Gray said in an interview with KPRC he’d been growing his locs out since sophomore year to embrace his heritage and his culture. Since the beginning of the year, he was repeatedly confronted by the assistant principal about his hair while other white students with long hair went unbothered, the suit claims. Gray was placed on in-school suspension by March and was to remain on punishment until he cut his locs.
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The superintendent, Curtis Rhodes, enforced the code saying students have always been “conservatively dressed” and “conservatively disciplined” and asked how many doctors, lawyers, and other professionals have long hair, per Star-Telegram. However, the idea professionalism and dressing “appropriately” wasn’t made to accommodate Blackness. But, alas.
Gray is requesting removal from disciplinary programs, the chance to participate in graduation and a revised dress code that is inclusive of natural Black hair. Thankfully, the CROWN Act is on its way to becoming a federal law. This is the second Texas student to fall victim to hair discrimination within the past week.